Shady NST newsroom practices under spotlight
One is the Xenophon affair, another is the Rahim Noor-Tuan Guru “kafir” story.
The reporters whose bylines were published with the stories have dissociated themselves from those stories. The words published were not the words they had written. On most occasions there is no fuss about this practice. Stories are rewritten or changed every day, usually for professional reasons: to make a story better, more interesting or more dramatic (or less insipid).
When something happens, a major error or boo-boo, it is most often politicians who make a huge ruckus, purely out of self-interest.
Politicians have their own media in which to raise a ruckus. Other people with similar complaints about news angling have no such vehicle and are drowned out by the politicians’ noise.
Harakah has been milking the issue with a string of reports to hammer the New Straits Times in this and the Xenophon case, and The Star over the Erykah Badu affair previously.
In these instnces it is always lowly reporters and lower-level editors who often pay the price of bad journalism because politicians let the real cause of such bad journalism get away: the editorial stooges and their political owners remain untouched.
In the Xenophon story, the reporter said he had not written what was published. (The reporter was serving his final days at the paper, having resigned earlier, and chose not to take up the matter with editors, I am told.)
The Tuan Gugu story carried reporter Rahmah Ghazali’s name as the lead byline. But she had only covered PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar, and her story had ended up at the bottom of the Rahim Noor-Tuan Guru story as the final two paragraphs.
Who’s blamed: unseen owner, stooge editor, or reporter?
Yet she was given the lead byline as if she had written the main story. In the public eye she would appear to be the one responsible. (Harakah did say she had denied writing it.)
Another reporter, Nik Imran Abdullah, was credited for additional reporting: usually that means the reporter did some leg work and contributed facts or quotations, but didn’t actually write the story.
Who, then, should take the blame? The reporter whose name is on the published story? The unseen editor or rewrite person who re-angled the story? The unseen editor or sub-editor who decided to string the bylines together and put Rahmah’s name in front?
Shouldn’t it be the highly-paid editorial stooges and their political owners, the ones who look for ways to damage the reputations of opposition politicians, to take the rap?
Will PAS and Harakah, the DAP and Rocket, attack the real cause of bad journalism? Or will they and their supporters just take the easy way out and blame all reporters and editors, all journalists?
If you want to know the answer, just read the rabid comments of opposition party supporters in the comments section of any news site or any political news article.